Thursday, May 17, 2012

RTE: Right to Education is WRONG!

Recently the supreme court of the political boundaries called India upheld the constitutionally "legal" nature and "rightness" of State rulers' so-called Right to Education Bill (see here). Under this legislation, State officials have made it compulsory for the on-paper private schools to keep 25% quota reserved for students of lower strata of society. Private schools challenged this ruling in the supreme court thinking that they will get the justice!

Well, what more can you expect from the judges who are selected by the State officials themselves? They are all part and parcel of the same thug system of State. The independence of the judiciary system is an illusion. It is a joke on the intellect of the populace. The major issue of concern here is, whether someone has a right to education? and more fundamentally,what is a human right? Without understanding the concept of human right, and its negation, human wrong, it is impossible to discuss such issues let alone passing judgements on them by the supreme court judges.

What is a 'human right'? 

To understand what is right and what is wrong for humans we must first understand the basic human nature in context of which these rights and wrongs are defined and discussed.

Every living human being on this planet has one overriding goal in his life of survival. For most people this goal is actually ancillary to the goal of gene propagation i.e., of passing his genes successfully to the next generation. The selfish genes, who are using human body for perpetual survival of almost immortality, propel human beings for instinctive survival. Now, survival in this complex , and most importantly a world ridden of scarcity, necessitates the use of various means to further the ultimate goal (or we can say, an end) of survival (Btw, even to commit suicide i.e., to end ones' life means are necessary). These means ranged from basic needs of food, water, shelter to luxuries such as internet, iPad, TV, car etc. These means are necessarily scarce, as I have already mentioned above. Scarcity is the condition of human life which we can not overcome by some magic. We have to deal with it head on. The means of food, water and shelter are not available for free in nature. Humans will have to first produce them in order to consume them later. For example, lonely Robinson Crusoe on an island economy will have to use his hands (labor) and beach (land) for catching fish from the sea before he can eat it. This is a very primitive form of production - but production nonetheless - with the use of original factors of production land and labor. Only after Robinson successfully catches his fish, he can consume it to survive. 

Further, - and this is more important for our discussion of human right and wrong - to use these means every individual human being must have freedom and an exclusive control - i.e., ownership - over the use his body and the unowned scarce physical resources which he first appropriates by using his body. This prerequisite freedom and the exclusive control over his body and scarce resources - technically known as, private property - is what is the fundamental human right. The ownership and control of this private property is what helps an individual to survive and that is why it is 'right'. Ownership of private property is pro-life and so it is 'human right'. Contrary to that, if Robinson is not free to use his property, then, he will die and that is surely 'wrong'. Thus, stopping someone forcefully from using his private property according to his subjective wishes is a 'human wrong'. Hence, private property right is the fundamental human right. There are no other 'human rights'. All other so-called rights are subsidiary to this fundamental right of private property. As Hans Hermann Hoppe says, private property rights are prerequisite of argumentation, which is necessary to make the decision of 'human right' and 'human wrong'. Humans can only decide whether something is right or wrong on the basis of argumentation. This 'a priory of argumentation' is the axiomatic basis of all human ethics.

Against this background we now have to judge whether a child - or for that matter anyone else - has a right to education. First off, as I said above, only those individuals can have rights who can argue for their rights. Without the process of argumentation, there are no other ways of deciding whether something is right or wrong. Physical fight or threat of such physical force can never decide anything because that will defeat the whole purpose of defining ethical (and moral) values for humans. The role of ethics in human society is to facilitate peaceful human interaction and cooperation. If people will start using physical force to decide what is right and wrong, then, there won't be any difference between a beast and human being. This implies that, animals don't have any rights because they can not argue for their rights with us! Animal owners do have rights and they can fight for their pet's right in the court through argumentation. Similarly, children also do not have any rights as long as they are not in a position to argue about it. The moment they start arguing for what is right and wrong for them and based on that they start making independent decisions, they acquire those rights. As with the case of animals, children's rights are taken care by their trusties i.e., their parents. Parents are the real owner of their children; children is parents' property (and not State officials', society's or nation's!!!). Actually, parents' role is that of a trusty. They are care-taker of their children till the time children mature and start taking their own decisions. All these means that, the right of taking a decision re whether a child will go to school or no lies exclusively with his parent. State officials have no say whatsoever in this decision making process. This fact in and itself explodes the bogusness and absurdity of government's RTE bill. State officials can never force parents to send their children to school against their wishes. The whole notion of compulsory schooling is an oxymoron. Schooling can never be compulsory; in fact, no decision can be compulsory. A child who is compulsorily attending school is a prisoner and his school is a jail, which is a fact re today's public compulsory schools (see this comparison between schools and prisons). Also, we all need to understand the distinction between schooling and education. Just by attending formal school classes, one is not going to become educated. In fact, the history of education tells that, those who escaped public schooling classes were truly able to educate themselves on their own e.g., see this. As great H L Mencken said, “The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else".

On the other hand, if a child wants to go to school but his parent are unable to send him, may be because they are poor (which mostly is the excuse cited for State intervention in education system), then, still that doesn't mean that education should be provided by the State officials by looting innocent tax payers. Poverty of others can never be an excuse for stealing other peoples' wealth. More importantly, we need to examine the root causes of this poverty, which is hindering parents from sending their children to school. If we dig deeper into the root causes of poverty, then, we will find that State itself is responsible for it. State officials create poverty first and then under the guise of removing this poverty, they loot tax payers. Actually, ground level evidences suggest that even the most poor of the poorest parents are saving money from their meager income and sending their children to low cost private schools which are providing far better quality education to their children compared to costly public schooling system (see here).

Above all, we need to understand that the free market is very well capable of providing high quality education to every children at the lowest possible price only if government allow it to function freely. As is always the case, because of government monopoly in the education sector, there is a huge lack of supply of private educational institutions. The demand for education is never a problem. Demand actually is never a problem in the economy. The problem always is with the supply. The goals of education can very well be accomplish if we abolish the government monopoly in education sector and allow free market to flourish again. Once the supply constraint is gone, there will spring all kinds of schools run by competent educator entrepreneurs catering all the strata of society. Increased supply will reduce the price of education and market competition will improve the quality.

These kinds of insane legislation will only increase the problems of education sector, just like any other government intervention in the market economy. Private schools will suffer heavily because they will have to bear higher cost now. Many schools will shutdown creating  more pressure on supply. That will further increase the cost of education.                

We all must clearly understand that, by passing such ludicrous legislation no one can educate the society. If just by passing such legislation one can solve society's problems, then, we all would've been living in a Garden of Eden long ago!

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